By Curt Yeomans
Arts Clayton officials recently decided to see what environmental themes local artists could come up with for a new exhibit that focuses on nature.
Thirty-one artists responded to the call for contributions to the gallery's "Organic Matters" exhibit, by submitting a combined 75 pieces of art, Arts Clayton officials said.
The art ranges from a painting - framed by a large porthole - that depicts a scene of underwater life along a coral reef, to a wooden suitcase that includes medication-pill bottles restrained by a wall of mesh metal.
There is a picture of light blue water coming down a waterfall, while nearby, there is an acrylic painting depicting a red lake, with fiery, red-and-blue clouds lingering on the horizon in the background.
The exhibit will remain in the Arts Clayton Gallery, located at 136 South Main Street, in Jonesboro, until July 10.
"Anything that is organic can be art," said Arts Clayton Gallery Manager Karen Powers. "It was just the thought that you've been hearing so much about going green, and Earth Day, and saving the planet, so we decided to go with that theme and see what the artists had to say about it."
Powers said the 75 pieces in the exhibit represent the work of 31 local artists. Arts Clayton held an opening reception, and awards presentation on Thursday. Linh Nguyen, a resident of Morrow, earned first place honors for his pen-and-ink drawing, entitled "The Heart of Buddha's Teaching." The piece shows three flowers blossoming. The stems for the flowers are made up entirely of lines of text, which are Buddhist teachings, such as the "Four Noble Truths."
Kathaleen Brewer, the judge for the exhibit-related competition, said she liked the way Nguyen incorporated the environmental theme into his piece, while also bringing in a religious element. "The fact that this is about nature, and because all of the Buddhist text deals with the environment and being kind to the Earth, is what I like about it," Brewer said.
Other award winners: are Sandra Lebrun (second place) for "Modern Medicine II;" Ginger Lou Fulton (third place) for "Earth Mother;" and Ginette Callaway (Patron's Award) for "Okefenokee Magic."
Honorable Mention status was bestowed upon Denise Wood's clay "Mother and Baby" sculptures; Karen Casciani's "Passion Flower" watercolor painting, and Russell Shealey's "Dancing Koi" digital painting.
Other participants in the exhibit included Barry Benner; Cathy Brown; Jennifer Gray; Sandy Holcomb; Jerushia Graham; Nancy Holtzclaw; Lynn Kaufman; Tom Kettles; David Lebrun; Lynn McMeans; Larry McDonald; Rachelle Nash; Kay Ridge; Ruth Roberts; Ray Salvatore; Michael Sawecki; Stephen Shifflett; Mariah Spann; Lamont Sudduth; Marie Shifflett; Audra Starr; Joe Shirley; Gertrude Smart, and Gregory Washington.
In addition to the environment-themed art exhibit, the Arts Clayton Gallery is also starting a new "Artisan Eats" program, this month, in which patrons can pre-purchase boxes of fruits and vegetables gathered mostly from several Georgia farms. Powers said the food in the boxes is compiled by Destiny Produce, which is based out of the Atlanta State Farmers Market in Forest Park.
Powers said a portion of the cost for each box goes to Arts Clayton, to help cover operating costs. People can sign up for the program by calling the gallery at (770) 473-5410.
The boxes feature a broad variety of fruits and vegetables, including cucumbers, tomatoes, apples, bananas, eggplants, peppers, squash, carrots, corn and sweet potatoes.
Powers said the boxes can be picked up at the Arts Clayton Gallery every Thursday. She said June was the ideal time to launch the "Artisan Eats" program, because it coincides with the theme for the "Organic Matters" exhibit.
"It ties into the 'Organic Matters' exhibit because what we eat is organic," Powers said. "People are going to get fresh food. The majority of these fruits and vegetables are from local farmers."